No quick cleanup after Irene
By Karissa Minn
SALISBURY — Nearly a week after Hurricane Irene hit, people from Rowan County are checking on their beach houses, volunteering to help hard-hit areas and even visiting the coast for Labor Day.
Nearly all of North Carolina’s 320 miles of coastline is open to visitors this weekend, and beach communities and businesses are working to bring them there.
Margo Metzger, public relations manager with the N.C. Division of Tourism, Film and Sports Development, said Thursday that most roads and beaches along the state’s coast have been cleaned up after Hurricane Irene.
“Hatteras Island and Ocracoke are still closed due to accessibility issues,” Metzger said. “But the rest of the beach is looking beautiful, and the weather forecast looks awesome.”
Salisbury resident Roman Troyer is going to the Outer Banks this weekend with a group of about two dozen people. He said friends and acquaintances he knows through his church have been planning the trip for three months.
“We all thought for a while we were going to have to call it off, but we just decided to wait until the hurricane went past and see how bad it was,” Troyer said.
It turned out that the cabin they’re staying in — Troyer couldn’t remember Thursday where it’s located — has no damage and the roads to it are accessible.
“I’m not sure what we’re expecting, but we know the beach house is OK,” he said.
Jeannie Misenheimer, also of Salisbury, got different news about the house she owns in Greenville. A large tree fell on the rental house during the hurricane, punching a hole through the roof into the attic.
“Our tenant had her dad from Lexington visiting to stay while the storm arrived, but after this tree fell on the house they left as soon as it was safe to get out of town,” Misenheimer wrote Thursday in an email to the Post. “She said it was very scary and shook the whole house. Thankfully nobody was hurt and a roof can always be repaired or replaced!”
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Despite the impacts of Hurricane Irene on the coast, more people in North Carolina and South Carolina are expected to travel this Labor Day weekend compared to last year.
The travel club expects 870,000 North Carolina motorists will take trips of 50 miles or more between Thursday and Monday, an increase of less than 1 percent over last year.
AAA expects about 424,000 South Carolina drivers to hit the road this weekend, about 1 percent move than last year’s forecast.
The N.C. Department of Transportation is urging visitors to use caution when driving to the coast.
Crews are continuing to clear debris from roads in coastal counties, the Transportation Department said in a press release Thursday, and there are still some scattered areas of flooding.
Some sections of N.C. 12 in the Outer Banks are still closed, but traffic has been restored from north of Rodanthe to Hatteras Village.
Due to power outages and heavy winds, some traffic signals are not functioning in coastal areas. An intersection with a signal should be treated as a four-way stop.
State tourism officials are advising visitors to contact lodging providers ahead of time to make sure they’re ready for guests.
Metzger said people who were planning on traveling to closed areas can vacation elsewhere in the Outer Banks and possibly get good hotel deals.
“If people were going to go to Hatteras Island or Ocracoke this weekend, we encourage them to find another beautiful piece of North Carolina coastline and visit those another time,” she said.
For real-time North Carolina travel information, call 511, visit www.ncdot.gov/travel or go to tims.ncdot.gov/tims/.
For more information on beach areas and lodging, go to www.visitnc.com/travelupdate or call 1-800-VISIT-NC (1-800-847-4862).